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For their final concert of the year, the association Les Moments Musicaux des Alpes-Maritimes invited the superb baroque ensemble Café Zimmermann to return to the Sainte-Réparate cathedral in Nice. The program paired two of Bach’s most celebrated secular cantatas with lesser-known concerti by Telemann.
Bach’s “Wedding” Cantata “Weichet nur betrübte Schatten “, BWV 202 featured the intelligent and clearly-phrased singing of soprano Hélène Le Corre. Her ornate lines were echoed by the expert oboe playing of Emmanuel Laporte, whose tone is endowed with a seemingly endless palette of colours. Particularly memorable was the cantata’s famous aria “Sich üben im Lieben, in Scherzen sich herzen », in which Laporte and bassoonist Anaïs Ramage brought the exuberant dance-like character of the music to the fore.
Hannes Rux’s brilliant natural trumpet playing was showcased in the first and last works on the program. The concert opened with Telemann’s Concerto for Violin, Cello, Trumpet and Strings in D, TWV 53: D5. The concerto was given a spirited reading, despite Telemann’s rather uninspired trumpet parts built on repeated notes, which contrasted with Bach’s more imaginative writing for the instrument. The program ended with one of Bach’s great trumpet cantatas: “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” BWV 51, in which Rux’s virtuosic lip trills were matched by Le Corre’s beautifully spun high notes in the aria “Höchster, mache deine Güte”.
Telemann’s Concerto for Four Violins without basso continuo, TWV 40:201 was an unexpected treat. It remains a mystery why Telemann composed a series of four such works, but the unusual scoring of four soprano lines on identical instruments, with no additional accompaniment, is captivating. The violinists of Café Zimmermann played the solo parts with aplomb: from the lyrical opening to the fugal second movement and the strange finale in which the violins sound trumpet-like fanfares. Telemann’s Concerto for Recorder and Bassoon, TWV 52:F 1 was energetically performed by Michael Form and Anaïs Ramage. These virtuosic soloists were perfectly matched: Form’s recorder playing was highly expressive with wonderfully florid ornamentation and Ramage’s bassoon playing was light and agile.
Le Corre and the musicians of Café Zimmermann acknowledged the audience’s enthusiastic applause by performing the closing aria from Bach’s Cantata “O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit”, BWV 210. The sung text was “Seid beglückt » (“Be happy”), but after such as beautiful concert, the listeners already were.